Our word carnival comes from the French word carnaval, which in turn comes from the Italian word carnevale, their version of Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, or the day before Lent starts. Now, Catholics aren't supposed to eat meat during lent, so it sort of makes sense that the word carnevale means "without meat". There are a lot of ways to interpret the meaning of that term, so, in alternative definitions, it also means "put away meat", "raising flesh", or even "farewell to meat". This is a combination of the Latin words caro, meaning "flesh" or "meat", and levare, meaning "lighten" or "raise" or "remove". You can see why the previous definitions were so confuzzling. Anyway, caro comes from the Proto-Italic word karo, still meaning "flesh", but that comes from Proto-Indo-European ker, now meaning "army" for some reason. Levare came from levis, which meant "light". Through Proto-Italic leyis, which in turn is from Proto-Indo-European hleng, still meaning "light".
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd